Nike Just Blew It

Okay everyone, let’s take a collective breath now. The dust has somewhat settled since ShoeGate (Do you ever notice how every scandal has “gate” in it?) went down a week ago. The ramifications? Well, Nike’s stock was down 1.32% as of last Thursday evening, costing the sporting apparel company $1.1 billion in stock value.

We’re no Jordan Belfort (How hard is it to sell a pen anyway?), but it doesn’t take an experienced Wall Street broker to know losing a billion dollars isn’t good for a business’ portfolio (Is that what it’s even called?) and we may have a slight inkling as to why. Let’s return to the scene of the crime.

“His shoe broke.”

Could this be the boomerang that breaks the Internet? Former President Barack Obama pointed and mouthed the words from his court side vantage point as Mike Krzyzewski, all of Cameron Indoor Stadium and the entire college basketball universe in that regard, held their collective breath, as their freshman phenom, Zion Williamson, lied in agony, grabbing his ankle. Just an unfortunate injury, right?

You do not have to be a college basketball fanatic to know that when Duke and North Carolina get together on the hardwood, it’s a big deal (considered the greatest rivalry in all of sports). Now, add a 6-foot-7, 284-pound All-American performing spectacular dunks and in all purposes will be the number one pick in the NBA Draft, going up against his arch rival, and you’ve got yourself one heck of a match up.

This game was hyped, no, super-hyped. Tickets were going for thousands of dollars (rivaling Super Bowl prices) while millions more watched from the comfort of home. This would be the game of all games. Sit back and enjoy; what could go wrong?

33 seconds in and Zion is on the ground, wincing in pain and holding onto his ankle. The culprit? Allegedly a Nike PG 2.5 PE, a signature shoe of Oklahoma City Thunder superstar, Paul George. Zion planted his foot, driving for the basketball hoop and goes down. Like we mentioned earlier, an unlucky injury, correct? Upon further review, and the many replays from all angles of Cameron Indoor (thanks ESPN!), we see in slow motion as Zion’s shoe breaks, literally. His foot actually tore through the side of it.

Yikes, talk about a PR nightmare. The biggest NBA prospect since, well, since LeBron James, could have his whole career jeopardized because of a sneaker? Get Nike on the phone, now! This isn’t Nike’s first rodeo, and within hours had a statement after the shoe dropped (okay, that pun was intended).

 We are obviously concerned and want to wish Zion a speedy recovery. The quality and performance of our products are of utmost importance. While this is an isolated occurrence, we are working to identify the issue.”

 – NIKE STATEMENT

Darren Rovell from The Action Network receives kudos for hounding Nike for a response, in which they provided after midnight (three hours after ShoeGate). If it weren’t for his persistence, would we have heard from the shoe giant? At some point, for sure, but when, we do not know. In this instance, millions of eyeballs are watching your brand come apart at the seams, literally, you better have a response and quick! As you’re about to read, the smallest of errors can snowball into a colossal disaster online.

Whether you’re a mega shoe brand or operating a small ma and pa shop, it’s super duper important to be proactive at managing your reputation, especially on the information superhighway (so 1995). Negativity is something every business owner cringes at, but now isn’t the time to be defensive (Shameless Plug Alert: Check out our blog post about online reputation management and how you can improve it).

 The After Shock

However, the social media storm had already begun. Facebook and Twitter lit up like fireworks on the Fourth of July. Athletes, including some of the NBA’s top stars shared their well wishes with Zion, while taking a jab, or two at Nike. One veteran shoe executive quoted as saying, “They’re going to show it until we die.” Yikes again.

Nike has to be feeling pretty anxious at the moment as they wait and see the official diagnosis of Zion’s injury (as of Friday morning he’s listed day-to-day with a knee sprain). There’s a lot in play here for Nike, as they planned on being a major player in the bidding war for Zion’s first professional shoe contract, granted he’s healthy to go #1 in the draft. And on top of all that, Nike officially launched its first Colin Kaepernick ‘True to 7’ jersey today after months of scrutiny as the former 49ers quarterback endorsement deal with the shoe giant became public.

A blown shoe though, could put everything in jeopardy. We’ll have to wait and see if the next shoe drops on Nike.